Epson EcoTank Expression Premium ET-7750 printer

      Photo Review 8.6
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      In summary

      Four-colour printers aren’t ideal for printing photos because it’s difficult for them to encompass a wide enough colour and tonal gamut. However, a cost/benefit analysis suggests the ET-7750 could pay off for businesses and clubs that need a multi-function printer that can produce A3 prints, particularly if they do a lot of printing.

      As a photo printer, whether this printer will suit you depends on how picky you are, how much you’re prepared to experiment with settings ““ and whether you make a lot of monochrome prints. Given the limitations for the ink set, we were quite impressed with the quality of the colour prints we produced from our original images.

      A close examination of the prints we made revealed they lacked the fine details and subtle tonalities we could achieve with our Epson Artisan 1430 printer. The six-colour Artisan 1430 has recently been replaced by the Expression Photo HD XP-15000.  

       

      Full review

      When we reviewed the Epson EcoTank Workforce ET-4550 printer in October 2015, we anticipated an A3 model would arrive shortly ““ preferably one designed for photo printing. Unfortunately, even though two years have elapsed, Epson Australia has chosen to release the ET-7750 as its A3 ‘photo’ printer instead of the six-ink A3+ L1800 model which has been on sale since 2014 in Singapore, Malaysia, Europe, the UK, Russia, India, South Africa, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Brazil, to name some of the places where it’s listed.
       

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      Front view of the new ET-7750 model in Epson’s EcoTank range of multifunction printers. (Source: Epson.)

      Although it claims photo printing capabilities ““ including making borderless prints up to A3 size ““ the ET-7750 is only a five-ink printer, with two of those inks being black inks. So effectively it’s only a four-colour printer, just like the ET-4550 we reviewed. Readers who want to explore the features of the more capable (and potentially more interesting) six-ink model the company manufactures can check it out on the Epson website.

      Who’s it For?
      Like the ET-4550, the ET-7750 is designed primarily for consumers who make a lot of prints and are very budget-conscious. But with a price tag of almost AU$1000, potential purchasers of this model need to be able to amortise the cost over a number of years.

      Epson supplies this printer (and others in the Ecotank range) ‘with enough ink in the box to print for up to 2 years’. When you unpack it you’ll find two bottles of each of the five inks. The Black ink comes in a bottle with roughly twice the capacity of the other four bottles because it is used primarily for document printing. This ink is the only pigment ink in the set.

      The remaining inks ““ Photo Black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow ““ are all dye inks. Epson says nothing about the durability of prints made with these inks but Wilhelm Imaging Research has conducted accelerated aging tests on the inks supplied with the L-series (L355 and L800) printers that were introduced in China, Russia, parts of Europe and South America back in 2014.

      It rates the four-colour ink set at between two and seven years for prints displayed under glass, with the six-colour set achieving up to 18 years. Durability is directly related to the paper used, with prints on plain paper having the lowest ratings, typically between 2 and 4 years for unframed prints. Ozone resistance ranges from one week to 43 years, again depending on the paper, with plain paper showing the highest figures. Tests for dark album storage and humidity tolerance are listed as still in progress.

      Consequently, as with the ET-4550, the ET-7750 will be best suited to clubs, social groups, schools and small businesses as well as households who want an everyday printer/copier unit for copying and printing tasks associated with domestic, school or university projects.

      Non-specialist users can benefit from some of the options available through the on-board menu, which include printing writing papers (with or without lines and/or a low-density photo), printing weekly or monthly calendars and printing greeting cards, all using templates and deriving images from a memory card inserted in the card slot. You can also print envelopes to match your greeting cards buy using the Personal Stationery menu.

      As someone who likes designing and print calendars and cards from scratch, we found the templates and options available rather limiting. But they would probably be appreciated by anyone with little or no designing and printing experience.

      Multi-function capabilities
       The ET-7750 provides most of the same multi-function capabilities as the ET-4550, although its scanning and copying functions are limited to A4 or Letter (8.5 x 11.7 inch) size. It has a slightly larger (2.7-inch) LCD screen than the ET-4550 but includes an SD card slot (which was missing from the ET-4550) that supports cards with capacities up to 64GB.

      The built-in menu includes lots of printing, scanning and copying options, most of which are business-orientated. Photo prints can be made in various layouts, such as 2-up or 4-up. A CD/DVD tray is stored in the base of the printer. It can be used to print labels on optical disks with suitably treated surfaces but only works with 12 cm disks. Wireless printing includes Wi-Fi Direct and Ethernet links with the ability to print from iOS and Android devices. Mobile printing is available via Epson Connect Solutions (Epson Email Print, Epson Remote Print, Epson Scan to Cloud, Epson iPrint App for iOS and Android, and Epson Print and Scan App for Windows), Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Android printing, Fire OS printing, and the Mopria Print Service.

      Build and Ergonomics
       With a footprint of 526 x 415 mm when first unpacked and an overall weight of 10.5 kg, the ET-7750 is light enough for one person to lift onto a desk and small enough to fit on most desktops. It’s not quite as solidly built as the ET-4550 we reviewed although its outer casing is relatively solid.

      The tilting control panel is solid, securely mounted, and adjustable through 90 degrees. The colour LCD panel and button controls are easy to use and logically configured.

      We found the paper cassettes rather flimsy and more difficult to slip back into their slots after paper was loaded than the single cassette on the ET-4550. After struggling to load 10 x 15 cm paper into Cassette 1, which is supposed to be used for smaller sheets, we gave up and loaded a stack of sheets into the rear sheet feed, where they were accepted without problems.

      In our opinion, the flimsy design of Cassette 1 in the review printer, combined with imprecise engineering standards probably accounted for most of the problems. When we returned the printer to Epson, they were quick to identify the fault.

      The cog that moves the photo paper tray had become loose as a result of rough handling when the printer was being delivered. It was simple for Epson’s technician to fix and return the printer to full operating condition.

      We found the pull-up supports behind the rear feed slot were also flimsy and easy to dislodge. Fortunately, when they remained in place they provided adequate support for A3 sheets of paper. (It helps to have a wall behind them for additional support.)

      The ink bottles are much easier to handle than those supplied with the ET-4550 because of their ‘auto stop’ nozzles, which click into locks above each tank in the ink bay. When the bottles are upended, the ink flows into the tanks.

      The seals on each tank are also better, which means ink is less likely to spill if you have to move the printer from one place to another. However, you must still take care not to tilt the printer if there is any ink in the tanks.

      Each tank should accommodate the contents of a single bottle, although any ink that doesn’t drain into the tank can be saved and used for topping up at a later time. No ink was lost during this process when we set up the printer.

      The power and USB cables are positioned on the rear of the printer and easy enough to connect. And the ET-7750 has the advantage of including a card slot on the front panel, providing one of several ways to print directly from a memory card. You can also print via the USB slot below it, which can connect a PictBridge enabled camera or an external storage device.

      Setting up
      Setting up the ET-7750 is similar to the ET-4550, starting with the removal of the packaging tapes (14 strips plus a block of styrofoam, two sheets of plastic and a couple of other paper/padding materials). You also receive two bottles of each ink ““black (BK), photo black (PB), cyan (C),  yellow (Y) and magenta (M) ““ along with an additional maintenance box, which is used to soak up surplus ink released during cleaning cycles or when you make borderless prints. (The printer comes with a maintenance box pre-installed.)

      Step-by-step instructions for setting up the printer are provided on the supplied Windows disk. For Mac users and those without a CD/DVD drive, they can be viewed on the following website: http://epson.sn.   Screen grabs showing the key steps are reproduced below.

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       When you connect the power lead and switch the printer on it spends a minute or two ‘preparing’ before asking you to confirm the inks are loaded and getting you to start the initialising process (which primes the ink leads). This takes about seven minutes.

      During this time you can install the software by clicking on the link provided.

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      When the initialisation process is completed and the driver is installed, the printer will check for firmware updates and instruct you to install them, should they be available. This took a couple of minutes with the review unit.

      Paper Handling
       The ET-7750 provides three paper feed options: two cassettes that are stacked one above the other and accessed via the front of the printer plus a rear sheet feed slot that sits below a flip-up cover. The larger paper tray ““ specified as Paper Cassette 2 in the instruction manual ““ can accommodate papers up to A4 or Letter (215.9 by 279.4 mm) paper and will hold up to 100 sheets of plain paper.

      Above it sits a photo tray (Cassette 1) that can hold up to 20 sheets of photo paper in sizes ranging from 100 x 150 mm through to 102 x 181 mm. The rear feed slot can handle sheets up to 27.9 x 43.2 (A3 size) cm and supports banner printing up to 112 cm in length. Up to five sheets can be supported by the pull-out paper supports.

      Paper is loaded printable side down in the two cassettes and with the printable side facing up in the rear slot.

      Regardless of which input option you choose, prints are always delivered through the front of the printer. We found the take-up tray was a little too small for the A3 prints, although none of them actually fell onto the floor. Aside with the problems associated with Cassette 1 and outlined above, we had no paper handling problems with the rear sheet feed and Cassette 2 (A4 paper).

      Printing
       You can do a lot more with this printer than either the instruction manual or the on-board menu suggests. But most of the potentially useful functions require you to work around the default settings and some require you to print through editing software.

      By default, the printer will select the memory card slot, although it   will accept input via an image editor when it’s set up to use the USB cable. If you’ve set up the wireless links, they should also rate highly in the default priorities.

      We found getting the printer to produce prints depended on using the right settings and working around any pre-set defaults. We’d advise users to toggle through the settings menu on the LCD monitor and input the desired settings before any paper is loaded. If you want to print directly from a memory card or via one of the wireless options, you may need to remove all the paper from the paper sources you don’t want to use to overcome the default settings.  

      The setup menu provides a reasonable range of adjustments for choosing the output media (paper, stickers, CD/DVD) and printing mode (a quiet mode is included) as well as a few options for controlling how images are printed. It also accesses the paper source and paper type sub-menus.

      Once you’ve set the output size, quality and media type and selected an image, pressing the down arrow opens another sub-menu containing settings that let you browse for images to print, select photos, choose between 1-up and 9-up prints (the former with or without information) and re-adjust the print settings. The Photo Adjustments tab lets you choose from a range of adjustments, including whether to apply the Epson Photo Enhance controls, the scene selection option (which includes an Auto setting) and a red-eye fix mode.

      The menu also provides  adjustments for brightness, contrast, sharpness and saturation. While we found they could improve image outputs if selected correctly, they tended to lack subtlety and couldn’t be fine-tuned. Better results were obtained by printing through an image editor, as shown in the illustration below.

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       The upper image was printed   with the ET-7750 with adjustments available through the settings menu. Contrast and saturation were raised by one step. The lower image was printed through Photoshop and the image was not cropped. Both prints were made on 10 x 15 cm Ultra Glossy paper and scanned with the ET-7750.

      When you print on papers with a different aspect ratio from the original image and select Borderless printing, the ET-7750 will fit the image to the paper by cropping. To some degree, the extent of cropping can be controlled via the Expansion tab in the Settings menu.

      The default Standard setting crops away quite a lot of the image and you may find important areas eliminated. If you select the Minimum setting, your losses will be less, although some cropping will occur as the printer adjusts the printing area to fit on the paper. Selecting the With Border option attempts to fit the entire image on the paper, although how much white is shown on the sheet will depend on the relative aspect ratios of the image and the paper.

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      The top image is as printed with the With Border setting. Below it are images showing the Standard and Minimum  Expansion settings.

      Printing through a computer and editing software gives you a few more options, provided via the printer driver. We made prints through both Photoshop CC and Microsoft Publisher and in each case had a wider range of adjustments to choose from.

       

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      The top screen grab shows the driver settings when printing from Photoshop CC. the lower grab was made when printing through Microsoft Publisher. In each case. the quality settings are circled in red.

      It’s worth noting here that if you select a Matte paper, regardless of which source you use for the image data, you can’t access the High quality setting. We suspect this could be because the printer tends to over-ink, particularly with the blacks, something we proved by printing on matte paper using the Glossy settings with High quality selected.

      Printing through software also lets you confirm the paper feed setting in the driver before you begin to print, rather than having to grapple with the settings pages in the printer’s on-board controls. We found the printer would sometimes re-set itself to the defaults, usually when we loaded one of the cassettes with paper and tried to use the rear sheet feed.

      Although the menu provides a Filter setting that lets you print with black and white or sepia tones. Sepia prints had an attractive warm tone suggestive of old photos. In both cases, the prints are made with the colour inks, which left a residual colour cast in the B&W prints, although the tonal gamut was reproduced quite well.

      You can make cast-free B&W prints if you select   plain paper as the media, click on the greyscale button and set the quality to Best. This forces the printer to print with the Black ink, which is pigment-based (the Photo Black ink is dye-based).

      It doesn’t matter what paper surface you print on, as long as it’s a high-quality inkjet photo paper. The reason for selecting plain paper is to access the greyscale and Best quality settings simultaneously.

      Because it uses only the pigment ink, this technique will give you genuinely neutral B&W prints.  They will also be much more detailed and infinitely more durable than the prints produced with the colour inks. This could make the printer worthwhile for photographers keen to produce monochrome photo books.

      Print Speeds and Quality
      Effectively, obtaining good results from this printer depends upon starting with a high-quality image and selecting the right, high-quality inkjet photo paper to complement it. We carried out numerous tests with papers ranging in size from 15 x 10 cm to A4 and A3 sheets and surfaces ranging from plain paper through cheap inkjet media to Epson-branded photo papers.

      Our tests demonstrated clearly that cheap inkjet papers will not produce acceptable results whatever the printer setting you use. The plain papers we tried delivered acceptable results for the media but were no match for the prints we made on the Epson papers.

      Sadly, we were unable to make any panoramic prints, although a colleague who was also reviewing the printer showed us a print made with the maximum supported image size (127 x 1117.6 mm), which looked remarkably good. Starting with a large image file would have been an advantage in that case.

      We measured the following average times for producing a print on the three sizes of paper we used. The results are shown in the table below.

      Paper size

      Standard quality

      Best quality

      15 x 10 cm

      43 seconds

      1 minute 41 seconds

      A4

      1 minute 12 seconds

      2 minutes 35 seconds

      A3

      2 minutes 20 seconds

      4 minutes 27 seconds

      With each paper size, between 25 and 40 seconds of the printing time involved ‘spooling’ while the printer was prepared to deliver the ink to the paper. The actual time for each size/quality setting varied, depending on the paper used and the amount of detail in the image.

      You really need to experiment with different settings to find the ones that work best with your favourite images and papers. And don’t feel tied to settings that appear to match the paper type you’re using.

      Because the printer won’t let you use the Best quality setting with matte papers, we tried printing them with the Glossy setting to gain access to the higher quality. It worked well for most images, although over-inking was common with images containing solid areas of black. Stepping back to the Standard setting addressed this issue effectively.

      Unlike the ET-4550,   a close examination of the prints made on glossy papers with different quality settings showed the ‘Best’ setting delivered slightly more contrast and sharpness as well as more vibrant colours than the Standard setting. However, with images that had inherently low contrast and saturation and most images printed on matte papers, these differences were barely discernible.  

      Gloss differential and bronzing were not encountered on prints made on any of the glossy or semi-gloss papers we tried. This is to be expected with dye inks.

      No photos were printed with banding or off-colours and prints came out dry and smear-resistant. Both borderless and bordered printing were supported, exactly as we expected.

      The scanning and copying functions worked in the same way as they did on the ET-4550 printer we reviewed, and so did the wireless printing facilities. Wireless printing was easy to set up and straightforward when driven from a Samsung Galaxy S7 phone.

      We had no problems with any of the maintenance procedures, which are easy to drive from either the on-board controls or through the printer driver. There was no need to clean the print head during our tests.  
       

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      The status monitor as it appeared towards the end of our tests.

      It’s difficult to gauge ink usage because the tanks hold quite a lot of ink (relatively speaking) and the status monitor (shown above) is relatively crude. The ink tanks have translucent panels that provide a better visual check than the status monitor and Epson recommends regular checking of ink levels.

      Conclusion
       Unfortunately, four-colour printers aren’t ideal for printing photos because it’s difficult for them to encompass a wide enough colour and tonal gamut.  However, a cost/benefit analysis suggests the ET-7750 could pay off for businesses and clubs that need a multi-function printer that can produce A3 prints, particularly if they do a lot of printing.

      As a photo printer, whether this printer will suit you depends on how picky you are, how much you’re prepared to experiment with settings ““ and whether you make a lot of monochrome prints. Given the limitations for the ink set, we were quite impressed with the quality of the colour prints we produced from our original images.

      However, a close examination of the prints we made revealed they lacked the fine details and subtle tonalities we could achieve with our Epson Artisan 1430 printer.  The six-colour Artisan 1430 has recently been replaced by the Expression Photo HD XP-15000. Both models are designed primarily for photo printing and use long-lasting, dye-based Claria inks that deliver high definition and excellent colour reproduction.

      The XP-15000 has an RRP of AU$499 and will print on larger A3+ paper, which makes it a better choice for printing photos, despite its more expensive, cartridge-based inks. To put the differences between the XP-15000 and the ET-7750 into perspective,  if you subtract the price of the 1430 from that of the ET-7750 the difference would buy you roughly three complete sets of ink cartridges for the XP-15000.  

      The Claria inks have print permanence ratings in excess of 80 years, compared with a maximum of 18 years for the EcoTank inks. Resistance to fading and atmospheric contaminants is important for serious photographers because we want to know our prints will retain their colours for as long as we want to look at them. So the low ratings for the EcoTank printers could deter photographers from buying them.

      In the end, it all depends on what you use the printer for. While we probably wouldn’t use it for printing images destined for framing, we think the ET-7750 is well suited to printing things like greeting cards and calendars. Cards only need to last for a few months, while calendars are there for a year but each page is only displayed for 31 days at the most. Fading shouldn’t be an issue in either case.

      Ultimately, for its price, we feel this printer should offer more, preferably through a larger ink set but also by using more durable inks. We’re still waiting for the six-colour L-1800 model in the EcoTank range, which is listed on the Amazon UK website at a price that equates to just over AU$1250. Sadly, it doesn’t use long-lasting inks.

      If Epson delivered an EcoTank printer that uses DuraBrite or Claria inks, it would  justify its price tag and provide a golden opportunity to encourage more keen photographers into printing their photos and producing photo books. That’s a printer we could probably recommend wholeheartedly.

      It’s difficult to purchase printers from overseas re-sellers, many of which won’t ship them to Australia. And even if you could, the cost of shipping would exceed the difference between the local and overseas prices.  

       

      SPECS

       Printer type: A3 inkjet printer with piezoelectric on-demand ink delivery
       Nozzle configuration: 360 nozzles Black (Pigment), 180 nozzles for each colour (Dye)
       Ink colours: Black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow
       Minimum droplet size: 1.5 Picolitres
       Resolution: 5760 x 1440 dpi (with Variable-Sized Droplet Technology)
       Paper feed: Friction feed with 3 options: cassette 1, cassette 2 plus rear feed for photo papers; manual duplexing supported
       Papers supported: 64 to 90 gsm for plain paper
       Max paper capacity: 100 sheets-A4/LTR Plain paper (75g/m2), 20 sheets-Premium Glossy Photo Paper, 10 sheets Rear Auto Sheet Feed up to A3
       Printing speeds (ISO standards): 13 ppm black text; 10 ppm colour text for A4 size; approx 27 sec per 10 x 15 cm photo print on Premium Glossy Photo Paper
       Scanning:  A4 Flatbed colour image scanner
       Scanning resolution: 1200 x 2400 dpi
       Copy speed: Black text – 10 ipm; colour text – 7.2 ipm
       Interfaces:Hi-Speed USB (2.0), Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n),Wi-Fi Direct; Ethernet 100BASE-TX/10BASE-T; SD card slot
       Power consumption: Approx. 13W Standalone copying (ISO/IEC 24712); Approx. 0.9W (Sleep Mode)  
       Acoustic noise: 5.3dB/47db
       Dimensions (wxhxd): 526 x 168 x 415 mm
       Weight:10.5 kg
       Supplied with:   Instruction manual, CD-ROM for product setup, Power cord, Initial ink bottles: 512 Black, 512 Photo Black, 512 Cyan, 512 Magenta, 512 Yellow (two each); Note: USB cable not included

      Distributor: Epson Australia; (02) 8899 3666; www.epson.com.au  

       

      Rating

      RRP: AU$999; US$650

      • Build: 8.4
      • Features: 8.8
      • Print quality Documents: 8.8
      • Print quality Photos: 8.5
      • Print speed Documents: 8.8
      • Print speed Photos: 8.5

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